Called to the Field

farm 004by Angela Batie

After four years of summers spent interning on organic farms, my sister is in month three of cultivating her very own plot of land, where she spends 12 hours a day, at least six days a week. I volunteered to help out during my visit to Denver: a grueling three and a half-hour shift. By grueling, I mean that by the end of it, my back was killing me and my legs were about to give out from the sustained squatting over the earthen beds. My sister, however, looked as though she had done nothing more than go for a gentle stroll around the neighborhood.

It’s almost comic, how different we are. I live off of frozen Trader Joe’s dinners, while her microwave is relegated to a dark recess of her kitchen, unplugged and unused. I wear flip flops at all times to avoid dirt between my toes, and she goes barefoot in her field when the soil is damp because she likes the way it feels.

Yet, I’m mesmerized by her commitment to sustainability, her love for the earth, and her ability to nurture these tiny seedlings into an edible bounty. Maybe it captivates me because it seems so foreign me – the diligence and stamina with which she labors in the field, the care and commitment she has to her plants. As I sat with her in the dirt today, digging out thistles that were invading a row of spinach, I thought about God, and how we grow under Her care. I thought of the monastic communities founded on work and prayer. But mostly I found myself coaxed into the peaceful way of life my sister has made for herself, just a woman and the earth under the warm Colorado sun as the mountains stand guard.

Somehow she seemed like more than my little sister as she planted rows of purple basil. She was a person answering her call boldly and completely. Maybe that’s what happens when vocation is lived to its fullest: it inspires others to want to be something more in their own lives, to live their own mission more fully, to become more authentic. It transforms others, or at least plants in them a desire to be changed. I certainly felt the invitation to grow into a better version of myself as I saw her fully alive in that field.

Even though I’m already on a plane leaving Denver and the dirt has been scrubbed off of my feet, I am holding onto the feeling of the farm, the inspiration of witnessing a purpose-filled life, and a longing to be like that in my own way.

Angela Batie is a campus minister at Saint Louis University, where she labors in the vineyard of the Lord. She thinks you should visit Renegade Farms at the Denver Farmer’s Market. If you go, tell her sister “hi.”

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